Home Blog Functional Stability Training: Does the Bilateral Deficit Apply to Deadlifts?

Functional Stability Training: Does the Bilateral Deficit Apply to Deadlifts?

Written on June 12, 2013 at 4:52 am, by Eric Cressey

Recently, Mike Reinold and I released our product, Functional Stability Training of the Lower Body.  With that in mind, I wanted to give you an excerpt from one of my webinar presentations, "15 Things I've Learned About the Deadlift."  Many of you may not have heard of the bilateral deficit, but it's one of the strongest supporting arguments for including single-leg work in a strength training program. This presentation will make you think about applying it differently with deadlift variations, though.

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  • Sven

    Mike Boyle said it demonstrated a big bilateral deficit. Done from the floor, too.

  • mark

    Hi Eric, I am a big fan of your work. Is the wording on first slide of the video correct? it seems to contradict what you are saying.

  • thanks for the heads up have wonder for years why this hasn;t been brought out because picthers use one leg all the time for power i no nothing about tech stuff just coaching observation

  • Tim

    Why don’t you compare a SLRDL to and RDL? Instead of a deadlift. It doesn’t matter though, as it still will usually come up short in my estimation. I may be able to come close to covering the bilateral deficit personally though.

  • Anne

    Great info! PLEASE do a seminar on the West Coast!!!

  • Just a thought, but wouldn’t a SL RDL be more comparable to the bilateral Romanian Deadlift as opposed to the conventional deadlift? I don’t know too many people that can RDL more than their conventional even with the additional stretch shortening cycle, which I know doesn’t make much sense physiologically speaking from what we know of the SSC but it seems at least a little relevant to this. I still think you’re right, that the bilateral deficit won’t apply as much to deadlifts when compared to squats, more just some food for thought. Maybe the loading differences are more psychological in nature?

  • Mark,

    Yes, it’s correct.  The bilateral deficit is smaller (or non-existent) with deadlifts.

  • Tim and Darren,

    The point would be that this is the best 1-leg RDL you’ll ever see, and the deficit is still smaller as compared to squat variations. I’m not saying it’ll be “negative,” but it’s still going to be very low even in those who have really built up their single-leg RDL proficiency.

  • Sven,

    Those are some impressive lifts (the barbell moreso than the KB one), but it’ll still be substantially smaller than the squat/1-leg squat deficit.

  • Rhys

    sweet, thanks for the article

  • Derrick Blanton

    Something I always wonder: What is the logic behind stabilizing the off leg on a SQ pattern, (i.e. using a BSS instead of a pistol, or even better, one leg SQ off a high box), yet in a reversal of logic, choose to raise it unstably for a hip hinge pattern? If you really want to train hip hinge STRENGTH unilaterally, and not balance, then either stabilize the off leg on a box, or better, just use an offset stance. Why is the balance requirement removed for SQ, and not for RDL?

    And if you really, really want to train balance, then do the uni-RDL on a bosu ball loading with a bamboo stick with unequal pails of water on either side. But heavily loading instability just seems to be training at cross purposes.

  • Chad

    Eric,
    Does the same bilateral deficit hold true for pistol squats?Because with the 1 leg dead you r only on 1 foot where as split squats you have 2 legs grounded.and with 1 leg you cant create any torque from the ground.kind of like dumbbell bench being less than barbell because you cant create that torque on the bar.does this make sense? Or did I not pay close enough attention.thanks.

  • Chad,

    It’s a great point. If you want to really compare apples and apples, a pistol ought to be compared to a squat, rather than a Bulgarian split squat, as the loading on the back leg is definitely significant enough to make the deficit larger.

  • Paul

    I feel like comparing the bilateral deadlift to a single-leg RDL is not going to be accurate. It would be more accurate to compare the 1-leg RDL with an RDL. The bilateral deadlift includes a knee bend, and comes from a dead stop.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4asrYsgpgOQ
    This video was posted by Ben Bruno. It includes the knee bend, so it is much more like a conventional deadlift than an RDL. This is what should be compared to the bilateral conventional deadlift.

  • Elliott

    The cyber monday discount is not showing up at checkout. Is there a code to enter?
    Thanks.

  • Elliott,

    For which product(s)?

  • Jeff Woodrich

    Great presentation. I don’t understand the infatuation with the BIL DL. All training has to be accountable to the sport or activity that person is playing. Please tell me what sport the BIL DL is specific to? I’m not saying it has no value but should only be small component of an athletes program. Jeff Woodrich


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